The phonogram OUGH is one of the toughest in the English language, with at least six different pronunciations.
Although (long o) I ate when I was through (ew) ploughing (ow) the garden, the meat I bought (short o) was so tough (short u) it made me cough (short o).
In some words:
- ough = ow (gh is silent): plough, bough, drought.
- ough = ō (gh is silent): dough, although, thorough.
- ough = ŏ (gh = /f/): cough, trough
- ough = ŏ (gh is silent): ought, bought, fought, brought, sought, thought.
- ough = ŭ (gh = /f/): rough, tough, enough.
- In the word “through,” ough = ū (gh is silent)
When we learn about diphthongs, the main sound of OU is OW, but it can vary, as seen in these OUGH words. A few more ways that OU can vary are seen in the Nessy Reading Strategy video on OU and in the sentence below.
I thought (short o) our (ow-r) chicken soup (long u) for the young (short u) soul (long o) could (oo) be about (ow) cool enough (short u) to pour (long o-r).
A worksheet for Oh, Those OUGH words! is available at the Super Tutor Tools store at Teachers Pay Teachers.